The National Institute of Justice estimates that since its inception, body armor has saved the lives of 3,000 officers—but it’s not without its limits. There’s technically not any material that is stab- or bulletproof; rather, body armor is resistant, and only to certain weapons. The most commonly used material is Kevlar, which while bullet resistant, is somewhat inflexible and heavy.
That’s why researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have designed a new material called piezoelectrical polymer, which was inspired by studying the “toughness” of human bone. The fiber can absorb greater amounts of energy, is extremely flexible, and if scaled up in production, could be a cost effective substitute for body armor.
Senior author of the study Dr. Majid Minary hopes that the material may prove useful beyond typical military applications, noting the polymer may end up in future aeronautic and protective sports equipment.
This story was prepared with assistance by Allyson Holley.